Margaret Eleanor Atwood, (born November 18, 1939) is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist. She is among the most-honored authors of fiction in recent history. She is a winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Booker Prize, and has published thirteen novels and fifteen collections of poetry.
Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood is lending her name to a new online poetry prize — “The Attys” — sponsored by a Toronto-based social media site for budding writers, Wattpad, which claims a community of more than nine million users that includes the Oryx and Crake author herself. And Atwood, who recently posted two of her own poems at Wattpad and has extolled the virtues of the site as an important incubator for young writing talent, has offered to help judge the contest and offer professional feedback to the top three finishers.
"I would say that Grimm's Fairy Tales was the most influential book I ever read," Atwood told one interviewer (Sandier pg.14) Atwood herself explains this attraction in terms of aspects of fairy tales: the motif of transformation and positive images of women...A close comparison of the elements of the Dictionary of Folklore’s definition with [Atwood's novel] Surfacing (1972) is provocative. The loup-garou story chronicles a transformation (one of the sources of Atwood’s fascination with fairy tales), and transformation is the object of the narrator’s quest in Surfacing. The loup-garou story is also indigenous to French Canada, where Atwood spent some of her childhood. The traditional loup-garou story, however, features a male protagonist. Here “Margaret the Magician” (as she has been termed by one critic) performs a metamorphosis of her own by grafting the strong female character from the Grimm tradition onto the loup-garou story.
Yet, Atwood is also suspicious of science. Many of her novels and stories depict adystopian or post‐apocalyptic world, in which people have to face the possible dreadfuloutcomes of current science and technology. For example, in Oryx and Crake (2003) and The Year of the Flood (2005) she tells the story of survivors of an environmental catastrophe that lead to the collapse of civilization. She describes society prior to this collapse as a segregated,dull, and violent society, in which animal abuse and child pornography are consumed as a formof entertainment, and in which genetic engineering had lead to the formation of bizarre animalsand humans
With her incisive wit and penetrating gaze at power and human relations, Atwood makes the extreme, evil imperial power look almost innocent and well intentioned. The Commander seems to be responding to Offred's memories of her mother, a character resistant to the abuse of women in a "free" marketplace. This passage is characteristic of Atwood's technique in her novels. Her protagonists tend to be politically naive and rudely awakened by secondary characters with more extreme political sentiments. All of her novels are political parables that voice the perspective of colonized characters who are usually not paying much attention to the political landscape, or who inadvertently wander into circumstances that make them vulnerable to the machinations of others.
By far Atwood’s most famous early novel, The Handmaid’s Tale also presages her later novels of scientific dystopia and environmental disaster like Oryx and Crake (2003) and The Year of the Flood (2009). Rather than “science fiction,” Atwood has coined the term “speculative fiction” to describe her project in these novels.
Her arrival at a Hong Kong literary festival last month was noteworthy after she controversially refused to attend a similar festival in Dubai. It was originally meant as a protest in support of a British author, Geraldine Bedell, who said she had been “blacklisted” because her novel featured a gay sheik. That turned out to be misleading. Ms. Bedell had simply not been invited, which is different than being censored. And both women ended up looking silly. Ms. Atwood was a good sport about it. She beamed herself to the Dubai event via a video link, and wrote a self-mocking article in the London newspaper The Guardian about jumping the gun.
“This was a case for Anti-Censorship Woman!” Ms. Atwood wrote of her own reaction. “I nipped into the nearest phone booth, hopped into my cape and coiled my magic lasso, and swiftly cancelled my own appearance.”
In 1967 Atwood married James Polk, though by 1973 they were divorced and she began living with the writer Graeme Gibson, with whom she had worked at the House of Anansi Press, a publishing company set up specifically to publish Canadian writers. In 1976 their daughter Eleanor Jess Gibson was born.
"You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but essentially you’re on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine."
Ms. Atwood is known for her quirky dark humor. But she’s also fearless in jumping, feet first, into serious issues like global debt, the environment, gay rights and censorship.
Born on in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Margaret Atwood is one of today's leading fiction writers. She studied at the University of Toronto and Radcliffe College, becoming a lecturer in English literature. Her first published work was a collection of poems entitled The Circle Game (1966), which won the Governor-General's Award. Since then Margaret Atwood has published many volumes of poetry and short stories, but is best known as a novelist. Her controversial The Edible Woman (1969) is one of several novels focusing on women's issues. Her futuristic novel, The Handmaid's Tale (1985) — which was later turned into a film by Harold Pinter—was short-listed for the Booker Prize, as was Cat's Eye in 1989. She finally won the award for The Blind Assassin (2000).